Barbara's Random Thoughts

Monday, March 03, 2008

Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier

I want to get this review written so I can give the book to Heather & Aaron this afternoon. Motivation!

I got a free Advance Reading Copy of this book a few years back, and never got around to reading it. It's the first in a trilogy, and as of now, not only has this one been officially released, the other two books have also been published. So much for my advance reading.

Basic plot: Reason (yes, that's her name) and her mother have been on the run from her evil grandmother for most of Reason's life. When Reason's mother is hospitalized for mental illness, Reason is sent to live with said evil grandmother. Reason discovers a doorway that's a portal from her grandmother's house in Sydney to New York City. It's in NYC that she is befriended by a girl named Jay-Tee (why do you have to lamely spell out the initials? Why not just "J.T."? This annoyed me), and subsequently: discovers she's "magic," finds out a bit more about her mother and grandmother, encounters people who want to manipulate her because of her magic...and no doubt this plot sounds a bit familiar. I liked this quite a bit, for what it was--young adult fantasy, kid finds out she's "magic," learns to navigate new worlds encountered because of magic, finds fellow magic friends, etc. I was craving this type of thing around Christmas/January, so this was good.

One thing that intrigued me was the way the author describes the kids' magical abilities. Each kid had a unique way of experiencing/describing their own abilities--Jay-Tee's magic builds more from personal interactions; she gains energy from being in crowds. Reason's magic is based more on logic, numbers, and patterns. It was interesting to me that magic was personalized like this; it became a more realistic personality trait rather than some kind of super power or skill to be learned. It's still something to be learned, but has to be more personally navigated, making the whole thing more of a personal journey of self-discovery. Now I sound like I'm describing a teen problem novel. Sorry.

I also appreciated that the characters were fairly ambiguously portrayed--there was a stock villain type, but there were hints of more complexity to the grandmother. I'd be interested to see where the author takes the characters in the next two books.

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| posted by Barbara | 1:08 AM